Heading for Harvest
Still way behind schedule but we are targeting August as catch up month on our reports and on winemaker profiles.
Back in August 2017 we saw one of the earliest harvest starts on record, with the official cremant harvest starting on the 21st and the main harvest getting underway on the 30th. We are counting the days to see when the official start dates, will be set for this year’s harvest.
The 2018 year kicked off in Alsace with wintry weather in February. Snow, ice, sub-zero temperatures. Then a long cold month of March was followed by a dry April. Next up, the month of May turned out to be one of the wettest on record with +42% more rain than the rolling monthly average. The weather in the early months meant the season is tagged as late starting, with a catch up growth sprint through to flowering. This made sure there was nearly zero frost damage, a good thing after the severe April frosts in 2017. Then the 2018 season see-sawed again. June and July produced long, hot, dry spells with rainfall averaging around 40% less than the average for these months. These hot spells came with thunder storms and hail storms that produced localised crop damage. Anyway, with 15,500 hectares spread along 120 kms and with all sorts of hillsides and flat areas, you can be sure of lots of microclimate effects.
On the producer front we are still to post the updates from the springtime visits to the open doors held at André Ostertag and Antoine Kreydenweiss domaines. Including the visit to the event held at Lucas Rieffel’s in Mittelbergheim. This was a mini salon with a full range of wines from Lucas, Catherine Riss, Jean Pierre Rietsch, Antoine Kreydenweiss and the visiting Olivier Horiot from Champagne. In May we had a sun-kissed weekend at the Salon Des Vins Libres held in Kientzheim. Reports to come on these visits in August.
The Back In Alsace Project is focused on two main areas; firstly providing a platform for “les vignerons artisans d’Alsace” and secondly, a follow up and reporting of the major events, twists and turns and initiatives that shape what matters with Alsace wine today. As with any “old world” wine region, there are plenty of issues, degrees of bull-shit, and bad attitudes stuck in the industrial agricultural recent past. We will be giving all that sort of stuff a body swerve as we firmly focus on all that vibrant, forward looking energy, that is currently buzzing in the region.
We are big supporters of producers who practice organic or biodynamic husbandry in the vineyards. And we love winemakers that carry this attitude through to techniques in the cellar; with natural fermentations, the use of traditional and non-traumatising physical methods, and a healthy disrespect for the use of additives. These are the foundations that allow winemakers the opportunity to express a sense of terroir, a sense of product (wine) that comes from a place, from a time with the input of human skills and attitudes.
On the cover-page photograph: the town of Andlau with the hill of the Kastelberg Grand Cru sitting right behind in the centre and the long slopes of the Wiebelsberg Grand Cru to the right.